About the Customer
U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is the Unified Combatant Command which oversees all Special Operations Component Commands of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.
While the politics and realities of a number of OEMs offering potentially viable vehicles to meet SOCOM’s requirements may be seen as a given in a competitive industry, one of the primary challenges facing any lightweight vehicle manufacturer is striking a balance between performance and mobility and protection for the vehicle’s occupants. The reality remains that the more heavily armored a vehicle becomes, the more its mobility, range and other performance characteristics are degraded due to the weight of the armor. Vehicles designed to perform in demanding off-road terrain need to have reasonable ground clearance, along with generous approach and departure angles, and need robust suspension to handle their loads as well as the vagaries of uneven ground.
Features such as V-hulls, while offering superior protection from undercarriage blasts, are simply not compatible with significant off-road performance, and while the SOCOM vehicles have limited add-on armor kits, these are intended to provide modest ballistic and fragmentation protection from small arms fire, and not to defeat heavier caliber weapons, or anti-tank missiles, or even rocket propelled grenades.
This tension between mobility and protection is perhaps best evidenced by a January 2018 announcement that SOCOM had awarded a contract for “heavy duty turret assemblies” to be retrofit to Flyer vehicles, offering improved protection for a gunner or to allow integration of the Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station (CROWS).
The Flyer 72 base vehicle was specially configured to meet the specific requirements of SOCOM, and in 2013 was announced as the winner of the Ground Mobility Vehicle competition, to replace HMMWVs in use by the organization. Under the initial contract, nearly 1,300 vehicles were ordered just to support SOCOM requirements.
General Dynamics and Flyer Defense have been delivering vehicles ordered by SOCOM under the 2013 IDIQ contract, with vehicles produced out of a GDOTS facility located in Anniston, Alabama. Furthermore, in 2017, due to delays in its own GMV Program, the U.S. Army placed an order for an additional 300 vehicles in a 9-passenger “GMV” configuration, to be used to support 5 airborne infantry brigade combat teams.
Flyer Defense has successfully developed successive generations of a wheeled, highly mobile platform, available in two base chassis widths, which can be rapidly configured to support a variety of missions.Learn More About the Flyer LineupLearn More About the Flyer Lineup